Senator Christopher ‘Bong’’ Go has highlighted the important role of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) as the lead communications arm of the government in delivering information and combatting fear-mongering and public anxiety during these times of uncertainty and coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
Go, vice chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, expressed his support for the proposed 2021 budget of the PCOO during a budget hearing conducted by the Senate Committee on Finance yesterday.
The budgets of PCOO and its attached agencies were subsequently approved at the Senate committee level and will be submitted to the Senate plenary for deliberation.
Go said PCOO and its attached agencies could empower the Filipino citizenry to deepen their civic engagement by informing, educating, and enlightening them about matters of national importance.
“Dahil po sa PCOO, naihahatid din natin ng maayos at organisado ang impormasyong kailangan ng tao tungkol sa mga proyekto, programa, at polisiya ng gobyerno, lalo na ngayong kasagsagan ng pandemya (Through the PCOO, we have also delivered proper and organized information that the public needs regarding the projects, programs, and policies of the government, especially now with the ongoing pandemic),” Go said.
“At napatunayan po ito noong nakaraang Marso, kung saan po nagkaroon ng lockdown. Talagang nag-double time po ang ating [People’s Television Network] at, in fact, kahit madami pong naging positive sa kanila sa COVID-19, ay talagang tuloy-tuloy po ang kanilang trabaho para makapagbigay po ng tamang impormasyon,’’ he added. (And this was proven in March, when the lockdown was enforced. Our [People’s Television Network] worked double time, and, in fact, even several of them contracted the COVID-19, they still continued with their works in order to provide accurate information.)
“Sa panahon ngayon na talamak rin ang pagkalat ng fake news at misinformation, hindi lamang tungkol sa COVID-19 kundi sa marami pang isyu, nariyan po ang PCOO upang magbigay ng kalinawan at tamang impormasyon para sa mga Pilipino,’’ he said. (With the proliferation of fake news and misinformation, not only about the COVID-19 but also about other issues, the PCOO is there to provide clear and accurate information for the Filipinos.)
Go praised the various accomplishments of the agency under the leadership of Secretary Martin Andanar to enhance the communication efforts of the national government.
He said the People’s Television Network greatly improved in terms of viewership and content. Go congratulated Chair Maria Fe Aliño and new General Manager Katherine S. de Castro.
Radyo Pilipinas, the flagship government radio station of the Philippine Broadcasting Service, evolved from Radyo ng Bayan.
The Philippine News Agency (PNA) now competes with other newswire services in providing timely, accurate, and relevant information to the public.
The PCOO also established its first satellite operations office in Davao City, thus making its presence more visible outside of the nation’s capital. The Mindanao Media Hub, as it shall be called, is nearing its completion.
Go also lauded PCOO as it continues to play a significant role in strengthening democracy as the overseer of the implementation of Executive Order No. 2, series of 2016 or the Freedom of Information (FOI) Program across the Executive branch and all other FOI initiatives.
“All these are affirmations of how the PCOO has utilized its funding to the fullest […] Ang tanging hiling ko lang po sa PCOO ay siguruhin na mabigyan ng tamang impormasyon ang ating mga kababayan ngayong may hinaharap tayong pandemya,’’ he said. (I am only asking the PCOO to make sure that our countrymen are provided with accurate information now that we are facing a pandemic.)
“The information you disseminate does not only ensure a well-informed and enlightened citizenry, it can also save lives in these times of crisis. Sa lahat po ng PCOO, kahit na po marami kayong Undersecretary at Assistant Secretary, alam ko naman pong nagtatrabaho kayo para sa ating kapwa Pilipino. Unahin ninyo lang po magserbisyo para sa ating kapwa Pilipino,’’ he added. (To all of PCOO, even if you have several Undersecretaries and Assistant Secretaries, I know that you are working for our fellow Filipinos. Please prioritize serving our fellow Filipinos.)